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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Satellite-fest for Goonhilly
Antenna One
The dish is 29.5 metres in diameter and is called Arthur
The Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first live television transmission from the United States.

The transmission was beamed to Goonhilly, on the Lizard, via the Telstar satellite in 1962.

Goonhilly once again linked-up live to the same stations originally involved in the first tests.

The pioneering connection in 1962 was between Andover in the US and Pleumeur Bodou in France.

Goonhilly control staff
Staff at Goonhilly were invited to the celebrations

Nowadays, with more than 60 dishes on site, BT-owned Goonhilly is the largest satellite earth station in the world.

It is able to transmit to every corner of the globe via space and through undersea fibre optic cables.

The station handles millions of international phone calls, emails, financial information, ship and aircraft communications and TV broadcasts.

The dish that received that first transmission was 'Arthur' - or Antenna One. Each antenna was named after a figure from Arthurian legend.

Telstar ceased operating in 1963, and today's link ups were achieved using one of the newest satellites, Intelsat 903, which is positioned above the Atlantic Ocean.

We really did feel like pioneers - it was a privilege to be involved in such an important event

Dr John Bray

Antenna One - which weighs 1,118 tonnes and measures 29.5 metres in diameter - was a pioneering design, which differed in shape to the other transmitters overseas.

One of the leading lights behind the design was Dr John Bray, who returned to Goonhilly on Thursday for the celebrations.

The 90-year-old scientist said the years at Goonhilly were "tremendously exciting".

"There was a real spirit of camaraderie among those involved.

"We really did feel like pioneers - it was a privilege to be involved in such an important event."


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See also:

06 Mar 02 | Entertainment
15 Aug 00 | N Ireland
12 Jul 99 | Science/Nature
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